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Buoyant Ireland in Germany's way

Germany are striving to make it three UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship titles in a row but the Republic of Ireland intend to provide a tricky hurdle in Tuesday's semi-final.

Dora Gorman, Stacie Donnelly and Rianna Jarrett in a good mood during Ireland training
Dora Gorman, Stacie Donnelly and Rianna Jarrett in a good mood during Ireland training ©Sportsfile

Germany have won both previous editions of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship and are aiming for a momentous hat-trick this week but they face the potentially tough hurdle of the Republic of Ireland in Tuesday's semi-final in Nyon.

Ireland are buoyant after becoming the first women's side from that nation at any level to reach a European final tournament, eliminating much-respected Sweden in the second qualifying round. Manager Noel King says that this victory showed the players just what they were capable of achieving.

"I think that they may have got a sense of belief, that they achieved what has been previously unachieved: that is to compete and win against top nations," King told UEFA.com. "To get a win against Sweden after going behind was a great, great psychological boost for them. I think they may realise that they can be better players than they are."

The Irish qualification hit the headlines back home. "It was very special. I was surprised how much publicity it received," said King. "It was the focus for at least one day which has never happened before for girls' football. That will be a great boost for the future and help with development. I think people have realised at last that girls in Ireland can play football, and that's fantastic."

King has huge admiration for Germany's achievements. "I have the greatest of respect for Germany. I love the way they approach the game," he said. "I love the way they have so many playing women's football – and men's football – it's a football nation."

Ralf Peter has been at Germany's helm since the first tournament in 2007/08, and they are yet to taste defeat, their dominance shown by their 7-0 win against Spain in last season's final. The coach admits that there is a certain pressure.

"Expectations grow with success and we've achieved extremely positive results," Peter said. "However, the world won't go under if we don't win it a third time, we will be trying our best, but this is always a difficult final tournament." The priority, Peter says, is booking a place in the coming FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup with a top-three finish.

"It's a new team – we have very good defensive qualities, this showed in the qualifying competition, with no goals conceded in six matches – but we had one or two problems in attack in a couple of games, and we've worked hard on this," he added. "Ireland are not unknown to us, we have been able to watch DVDs of two matches. We were a little surprised that they eliminated Sweden – but at the same time, this represents a warning for us."